Last weekend I was in Bombay and was cribbing to my Ma
Me: "Maaaaaaaa ... This damn Pune climate is doing something to my hair. I think I am going bald"
Grabs hold of my head like it's a coconut and peers at it from all angles-"Let me see"
Ma (Pursing her lips):"Yes. It does look like its thinning. How many times have I told you to take care of your skin and your hair? Do you listen to me? No. Always other things to do. Always behave like a boy. Now look - you will also go bald like a boy"
Dhishum, dhishum, and dhishum for the next five minutes- it doesn't matter if one is grown up (?) and married when it comes to mothers. They will continue to treat one like recalcitrant 8 year olds till the end of time.
This is a long-standing argument - I remember having variations of this conversation, well, every since I remember remembering anything. . Ma thinks I am a changeling. She cannot understand how is it that she has produced a child who is so utterly disinterested in dressing up, jewellery, clothes, make up, beauty tips or any other feminine, pretty things.
After five minutes of relegating me to my rightful place (the figurative doghouse) she relents.
Ma: "Hmmm..you remember A (my cousin) was here a few months ago? She also had the same problem; she was putting some hair pack that she left behind. Why don't you try that?"
She produces the aforementioned pack from somewhere. Normally, I don't use packs. Partly because I don't know what the heck to do with them and mostly because, well, its just too much effort. But this is different. I have a grave, real (albeit unplanned and less dysfunctional) risk of resembling Britney Spears if timely, corrective action is not taken.
I peer at the pack. It looks like a fine green strange-but-not-bad smelling powder. This should be manageable.
Me: "Won’t it fall off? It’s dry!"
Ma: "You are supposed to mix it in eggs (beaten) or a paste of banana and apply it on your hair and leave it for an hour. To make hair softer, you can also add curd”
Eggs or bananas and curd in one's hair? am not putting edible stuff on my hair thank you very much. Will try warm oil massages that should be work- I mean, bananas? Hell, if I go out, there will be birds swooping down to eat off my head.
Forward to Friday and a few hundred hairs lighter. And eggs it is (pretty much a default choice since I can’t come within smelling distance of bananas - as allergic to it as I am to being bald).
The next task is smuggling eggs into the house without the MIL figuring it out (for reasons which are too long to explain, the MIL must NOT be privy to this little fact). If I were in Mumbai, it would have been a simple task - just go to the grocery chap downstairs. Here? In this Kobra stronghold - not so simple. The shops (or at least the ones I know) seem to be largely vegetarian. Have to enlist the help of the bai (not Ugamma but the other female who likes me – so hopefully will keep a discreet silence)
That done, the next challenge is to figure out a time where
a) I am at home and more importantly
b) The hero is AWAY from home. For a significant period of time. Is not likely to traipse in unannounced.
Trust and sharing as the cornerstone of marital health be damned. There is no way in hell I will put egg in my hair with him gawping with fascinated interest (not to mention the inevitable background commentary).
Strike lucky. Hero needs to go to work on Saturday. MIL needs to go somewhere else. So I have a blissfully empty house.
Proceed to make the concoction. The not-bad smelling powder starts smelling well, bad as soon as I mix it with the eggs.
The next question is how to apply it. Voluntarily applying an ice-cold foul smelling mixture to the back of one’s head is not an easy a task as one would think – especially in the absence of any paintbrush. Locate a spoon – the mixture ends up everywhere (ears, eyes and nose) but my head. Try it with a toothbrush – bloody laborious and absolutely ineffective – all I get is a crick in the neck. Try putting my head in the vessel, which has this mixture - head doesn't fit. Eventually end up hanging over the basin with an inverted vessel over my head.
Then it's just a waiting game for an hour until it dries. Call up Ma.
Me: "Ma, do you know whether A washed hair in hot water or cold?"
Ma (Most interested): "Ah you put it? Who put it for you? How does it feel?”
Trust her to go on a complete tangent.
Ma: "Don't wash in cold water, you will get a head cold"
Me: “But, ma if I wash it in hot water, wont the eggs COOK?”
P. S. The result was a bathroom which looked like had just witnessed a battle between Humpty Dumpty and the Great Green Monster. Sigh. As long as my hair doesn’t look like that ….